Tournament all-star Joanna Alphonso comments on ‘killing the bird’
Yanik Gallie interviewed Joanna Alphonso on November 6, 2018 in The Xaverian Weekly office. Alphonso is a tight-head prop for X-Women Rugby.
YG: Congrats on the big win. Talk to me about the game and how you prepared for the final?
JA: Going into the game, we weren’t favoured to win. That was a big cloud over our head. We knew that no team could stop us if we played 100%. Going into the game, coach Mike told us to starve their back line of the ball. That’s exactly what we did. Their #10 was really shifty and we were able to shut her down. That was our whole game plan.
We kept possession for most of the game. Our big forwards did the job to get those tries. Our backs did a good job tackling. It was an all-around team effort.
YG: You mention coach Mike in your answer. How has the coaching team been supportive of the rugby team this year?
JA: We have amazing coaches. Mike, our head coach, Tara, our forwards’ coach, John, our scrum-half coach, and Allison our backs’ coach, they have worked with us day in and day out. They are there from 5pm to 6:30pm with us teaching us the little skills that we need to win a national championship. Definitely, Mike is a rugby genius. There’s nothing Mike doesn’t know about rugby and that helps when he’s teaching us things that help us win. Tara is amazing. She is our forwards’ coach so I work personally with her. Since I’ve been in first year, Tara has been there for me. She always had my back and she always will. John and Allison both hold special positions on our team as well. They help these individuals excel to their best ability.
YG: Tara has been around for the three rings in the last five years. What does the third and final ring mean to you?
JA: This ring is bittersweet as I don’t have any more years of eligibility. It’s also bittersweet because I think that I was part of something really special. Our rugby team is like no other. It’s a family. Those girls are there on your worst days and on your best. They pick you up whenever you need it and they have your back always. There’s always someone there when you need to talk. Also, the fact that we weren’t favoured to win the tournament. We’ve had a lot of confrontation with other teams saying that we shouldn’t have won our games. We’ve proven time and time again that we deserve the win. Our hard work definitely paid off in the end. It’s awesome to know that respect has been put on our names now because we pulled off the title.
YG: You’ve shared this expression on social media that some of our readers might not be familiar with and it’s ‘killing the bird.’ What’s the story behind this expression?
JA: Before we go to nationals every year we have a breakfast with Kent MacDonald and Leo MacPherson, the president of the university and our Athletic Director respectively. They give us all their well wishes. We have some loyal fans like Father Stan and Sister Jovita who come to the breakfast as well with our coaching staff and players. Every year, Mike says a speech but this year the speech was special. He stood up and he said, “We’re like cats. We get birds and we beat them up a bit and we let them go. We beat them up some more and let them go. We do that to teams all the time. We give them hell and then we let them off the hook and back off. Stop playing around, just go out there and kill the bird.”
We took that motto into the tournament. It was so fitting because every game when we took the field, that’s what kept us going. “We got to kill the bird because we can. We know that we have it, so let’s kill it.” Our last game was against the Guelph Gryphons, which is a bird, so we put it to rest.